Our Gospel reading is Jesus and the Pharisee’s. The Pharisee's were a particular sect of Rabbi's in Jesus time. A Rabbi is a Priest of Judaism who teaches the Torah they are to be respected, while the term “Pharisee” has become derogatory among Christian’s why? Jesus criticised them extensively....he called them “blind leaders, leading the blind” and “whitewashed tombs - all pretty and nice on the outside but inside full of corruption and decay.” They were hypocrites more concerned with appearing not to sin, than actually doing good. Vain, spiritual leaders who flaunted their power, and became self-righteous fools. Thinking themselves better than everybody else. They of all people should have known better.
But they knew how to make disciples. Hebrew children are taught Torah from a young age. The best of them go on to sit at the feet of a Rabbi and learn from him directly, then become a Rabbi themselves. Disciples who make disciples. Our Rabbi is Jesus, who we should follow so closely the dust raised by his footsteps falls on us, and we need to be disciples who make disciples.
Our local Vicar has a regular discipleship group he meets with on Zoom. He shared in the notices this week that they have been exploring the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5) and this week focused on Joy.
I had carefully nurtured my faith, in daily bible reading and spending time in his presence, and in the worst and darkest days of my life - I discovered that “joy” is sometimes given supernaturally by the Holy Spirit. My life a mess, in the midst of a divorce, from a cheating spouse, who I had loved with all my heart.” Abandoned and alone in depression and despair, I prayed and Jesus supernaturally filled me with joy lifting my heart above my circumstances. Giving me Joy and Peace in the worst of circumstances, and the ability to keep breathing.
The vicar's challenge was to try to see the joy in the different things we do everyday before moving on to the “next thing.” Pause and look for joy, relax and give thanks for it and then to face the next daily challenge with renewed vigour. I need more joy in my life, and definitely renewed vigour, what about you? In dark days - Jesus can fill you with joy, but today I am going to join the vicar in looking for the “stop and smell the roses” moments….small miracles of joy. Why not join me in looking for joy and giving thanks?